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United Nations Daily Highlights, 09-10-09

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From: The United Nations Home Page at <> - email:







Friday, October 9, 2009


The following

statement was delivered this morning by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:

I would like to wholeheartedly welcome and congratulate U.S. President Barack Obama on winning the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009. This is great news for President Obama, for the people of the United States, and for the United Nations.

"We are entering an era of renewed multilateralism, a new era where the challenges facing humankind demand global common cause and uncommon global effort. President Obama embodies the new spirit of dialogue and engagement on the world's biggest problems: climate change, nuclear disarmament and a wide range of peace and security challenges.

"President Obama's commitment to work through the United Nations gives the world's people fresh hope and fresh prospects. We at the United Nations highly applaud him and the Nobel Committee for its choice.

"I look forward to further deepening the US-UN partnership as a key building block to a better and safer world for all. Again, I send my deepest and wholehearted congratulations to President Obama. I wish him continued success.

The Spokesperson, in response to a question, said that the Secretary-General will be sending a congratulatory letter to President Obama.


The Secretary-General

condemns in the strongest possible terms todays bomb attack at a market in the Pakistani town of Peshawar which reportedly killed at least 49 people, including children and women, and injured many more.

No cause can justify such indiscriminate violence.

The Secretary-General extends his condolences to the families of the victims and to the Government of Pakistan, and wishes those injured a full recovery.


Asked if there would be an independent investigation into security issues around the bombing of the World Food Programme (WFP) compound in Islamabad, the Spokeswoman said that she had no information about any independent probe.

She noted however that the UN Department for Safety and Security was investigating the security conditions and circumstances leading to the incident, as well as the living conditions for UN personnel in the country.

Asked if the Secretary-General was aware of Pakistan's proposal to move all UN offices in Islamabad to a secure compound under Pakistan's "One Roof Programme", the Spokeswoman said that he was and that there have been ongoing discussions about the wider United Nations community in Pakistan moving to a different location. So far, however, none of the options have been large enough to accommodate all WFP staff.

Asked if the Secretary-General had been informed of Pakistan's concerns that the security of UN personnel was not up to the threat level in Islamabad, Montas said that he was fully aware of that and had asked for an assessment . However, the bombing of the WFP compound, one of the best-protected in Pakistan, occurred before that could take place.

"There is a continuous risk assessment at UN facilities around the world," Montas noted.


The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

reports that the situation in northern Yemen remains dire, tense and volatile, with civilians continuing to bear the brunt of the ongoing conflict.

Today, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes

visited a camp in northern Yemen, where over 6,000 internally displaced persons are being sheltered.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that around 30 newly displaced families are arriving daily to the northwestern town of Haradh. Some have traveled by foot through the mountains for as long as five days, arriving exhausted.

Having moved to areas where there is little basic infrastructure, such as clean water sources, and with scant means of supporting themselves, the newly displaced are largely dependent on humanitarian aid for their survival, OCHA says.

OCHA adds that, with the latest clashes, the total number of internally displaced persons has swollen to some 150,000.

UNHCR says its operation to deliver aid from Saudi Arabia to displaced Yemenis stranded near the border is scheduled for tomorrow. UNHCR has already positioned tents, mattresses, blankets and other items for more than 2,000 people on the Saudi side of the border.

Meanwhile, the flash appeal issued in response to this crisis remains only 16% funded, OCHA notes.


Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes will arrive in the Philippines on Monday on a two-day mission to review the strong emergency response to Tropical Storm Ketsana and Typhoon Parma.

There, Holmes is scheduled to meet President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and cabinet ministers, including the Chairman of the National Disaster Coordinating Council and the Secretary of Defense, the UN Country Team, the UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team and donors.

Holmes mission comes in the context of recent reports of a serious situation in northern Luzon as a result of the incessant rainfall exacerbating the floods and the number of people in need of immediate humanitarian assistance.

The Flash Appeal for US$74 million to address needs in 13 sectors in support of the Governments relief efforts has so far been funded with $13.6 million, 18% of the amount that is actually needed.


Yesterday, UNICEF Executive Director Ann Veneman visited the Philippines to see the damage done by a tropical storm and subsequent massive flooding.

She visited a number of small villages affected, including Santa Cruz village in metro Manila where during the first few days after the storm hit, the school was home to 700 people, 300 of them children.

UNICEF has provided the city authorities with family kits and kits with essential medicines, water and hygiene kits.

During the visit Veneman also met with the President of the Philippines to discuss response efforts and the emergency relief needs that UNICEF could meet, as well as ongoing efforts to promote the rights of all children in the country.


The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says the international humanitarian community today launched a $38 million humanitarian response plan to complement the Indonesian Governments efforts in meeting the needs of earthquake-hit communities in West Sumatra.

The Humanitarian Response Plan targets some of the most affected areas, including Padang City and Pariaman City, for the next three months.

Eleven UN agencies, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and 18 international NGOs are requesting funds for 74 humanitarian projects.

As international search and rescue teams continued to depart and an increasing number of humanitarian teams arrive in Padang, the United Nations Disaster and Assessment Coordination teams focus has shifted to humanitarian coordination.


The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights today welcomed the Iraqi Governments release of 36 members of the Peoples Mujahedeen Organization of Iran, who were detained when Iraqi security forces forcibly took control of Camp Ashraf at the end of July. Eleven people were killed and dozens wounded during that operation.

The Office of the High Commissioner added that the fundamental rights of this refugee camps occupants should be respected -- including the right not to be forcibly returned to their home country, Iran, so long as there is a risk of torture.

Along with the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI), which had been very active in this case, the Office of the High Commissioner says it will continue to monitor the situation in Camp Ashraf over the coming months.


The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has

renewed its call to the Congolese refugees formerly residing at the Gihinga camp in Burundi not to return to their native Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) just yet.

UNHCR is reacting to an incident yesterday at the Burundi/DRC border in which some 400 Congolese from the Gihinga camp were prevented from entering the DRC by immigration officials.

While details remain sketchy, it appears that the 400 Congolese denied entry into their own country are part of a group of refugees who had earlier refused to move to a new UNHCR camp further into Burundi. For its part, UNHCR continues to urge them not to leave Burundi as it fears that neither the Congolese government nor UN agencies would be able to ensure their safety inside Congo at this time.

Meanwhile, in the DRC proper, a World Food Programme (WFP) convoy was able to reach the northeastern town of Dungu after a 1,000- kilometer journey from Uganda through Southern Sudan. The convoy is delivering food aid to some 160,000 displaced people. The agency thanks the Government of Southern Sudan for facilitating this operation.


The World Food Programme (WFP) has

distributed more than 22,000 tons of food aid to some 1.3 million Somalis, and that within the past month alone. WFP says it could have made more food available to vulnerable Somalis but its September requirement for 48,000 tons to feed 3 million people received less than half of the needed funds, forcing it to cut down rations and the scope of its interventions.

The agency now says that it urgently needs 195 million dollars to provide food aid to 3.3 million Somalis through April next year.

Asked to react to reports that the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia is recruiting children in Kenya to fight the armed Islamist opposition, the Spokesperson said that this matter is of great concern to the Organization. The UN envoy for Somalia, Ahmedou Ould Abdallah, is closely following it.


Regarding the recent violence in Guinea, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights reports that High Commissioner Navi Pillay is considering how to assist with an investigation -- and make sure that it is credible -- in view of the security and political situation on the ground.

She is concerned about possible risks and harm that may come to Guineans if an investigation is launched without the necessary security guarantees for witnesses and those who provide information.

There also needs to be free access throughout the country, and full independence. Much would depend on the cooperation of the Guinean authorities who have just announced the creation of their own Commission of Inquiry, the High Commissioners office adds.

For now, Pillay is gathering information on the incidents through a multitude of sources, in consultation with other parts of the UN system, and considering various models for a possible probe. She hopes that an investigation will take place as soon be possible.

In the meantime, her office has a human rights advisor on the ground in Guinea, who has been there since 2008.


The Mission in Côte dIvoire (UNOCI) is appealing to Ivorians and other stakeholders in the planned November 29th election to give electoral technical teams the necessary time to complete voter lists.

The Mission reiterated its readiness to continue to provide, within the limits of its mandate, whatever assistance the country needs to complete this process. Responding to concerns that some 3 million people have yet to be included on the voter lists, the Mission said that there is still time to work out the difficulties surrounding this issue. It also appealed to the authorities to publish as soon as possible the completed provisional lists.

Meanwhile, the Mission says it has delivered the final load of electoral equipment to the capital Yamoussoukro just yesterday. The delivery includes polling booths, ballot boxes and kits.

The Secretary-Generals Special Representative, Young-jin Choi, will be updating the Security Council next week on recent progress and outstanding challenges in the UNs work in Côte dIvoire.


The latest UN Climate Change negotiations have

resulted in more clarity on the architecture needed for action -- but decisions on finance and mid-term targets remain outstanding.

That is according to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which wrapped up today a two-week negotiating session in Bangkok.

Yvo de Boer, the Executive Secretary of the Convention, said that bold leadership must open the roadblocks around the key issues of reduction targets and finance in order for negotiators to complete their work. It is time now to step back from self-interest and let the common interest prevail, he added.

De Boer also said that countries were leaving this negotiating session with a much clearer idea of the options before them. He stressed that the willingness they had shown to discuss a concrete climate action architecture must now be turned into achievable, believable decisions.

There are now five days of climate change negotiations left before the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December.

The last session will take place from 2 to 6 November, in Barcelona.


CONFERENCE MANAGEMENT DEPARTMENT AGREES WITH INTERNAL WATCHDOGS FINDINGS: In response to questions about a news report on the Department of General Assembly and Conference Management (DGACM), the Department says that the Office for Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) evaluation to which the news report refers was carried out at DGACM's request. The Department says it is largely in agreement with the findings contained in the report. As stated in the news report, the Department says it "does not share the pessimistic tone and tenor of the report regarding the very existence of integrated global management." It says visible progress is underway. The Department notes improvements, which are mentioned in the OIOS evaluation on page 7 but which the news report chose to ignore Furthermore, the Department is currently examining how best to implement the recommendations contained in the report.

UNITED NATIONS OBSERVES WORLD MENTAL HEALTH DAY: Tomorrow will be World Mental Health Day. In a message to mark this occasion, the Secretary-General says that this day is an important opportunity to mobilize international resources to meet the goal of providing adequate mental health care. He adds that the need is high but the care is care is inadequate in developing countries. The Secretary-General calls for a scaling up of mental health services and the involvement of primary health care systems in delivering mental health services worldwide.

UNITED NATIONS OPTIMIZES VACANT SPACE AT HEADQUARTERS: Asked why carpeting work was being done on the 23rd floor of the Secretariat building at a time when staff is being relocated out of the building, the Spokesperson explained that the Organization is optimizing vacant space on that floor for interim office space or "touch down" accommodations for temporary UN staff and others who need to be in the Secretariat building, while additional swing space is in the procurement process or being prepared for staff relocation. A few offices on the 23rd floor temporarily used by UN staff have therefore received new carpet tiles. She added that new carpet tiles being laid down cost the Organization just $500 and will also be used in the future renovations.


10 - 16 October 2009

Saturday, 10 October

Today is World Mental Health Day.

Starting today and until 13 October, the Deputy Secretary-General will be in Brussels. Among other activities, she will launch the EU-UN Partnership Report on Monday.

Sunday, 11 October

Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Alain Le Roy, will be arriving in Singapore today to participate in the opening of the 78th INTERPOL General Assembly which is dedicated to "The Role of International Policing in Building Sustainable Peace".

Monday, 12 October

In Geneva, the Human Rights Committee will hold its ninety-seventh session until 30 October.

Starting today and until 16 October, the Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families will hold its eleventh session in Geneva.

From 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) will sponsor the opening of a major exhibition on violence against women around the world. The show, to be attended by the Secretary-General, is also intended to observe the 15th anniversary of the Cairo International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), and will follow a full-day session of the General Assembly commemorating the anniversary.

Today and tomorrow in Rome, the Food and Agriculture Organization will hold a High-Level Expert Forum entitled How to Feed the World in 2050.

The guest at the noon briefing will be Janos Pasztor, Director of the Secretary-General's Climate Change Support Team.

This morning, Ms. Naela GABR, Chairperson of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women will address the General Assemblys Third Committee.

Starting today and until 18 October, the UN Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, Ms. Najat Mjid Maalla (Morocco), will undertake a country visit to the United Arab Emirate.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Mr. Olivier De Schutter, will visit Brazil until 18 October.

In Vienna, a two-day International Workshop of National Counter-Terrorism Focal Points on Better linking national and global counter-terrorism efforts will begin today.

Tuesday, 13 October

This morning the Security Council is expected to adopt a resolution on the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) and on the Panel of experts on Sudan sanctions. It will then hold consultations on the United Nations Operation in Côte dIvoire (UNOCI).

Starting today and until 15 October, Under-Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations, Alain Le Roy, will be in India to carry out a series of meetings with government officials and national authorities, as part of an official visit to Troop Contributing Countries.

From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., the joint Council of Europe/United Nations study on trafficking in organs, tissues and cells and trafficking in human beings for the purpose of the removal of organs will be launched in the Economic and Social Council Chamber.

Following the noon briefing, there will be a press conference to launch Joint Council of Europe/UN Study on Trafficking in organs, tissues and cells and trafficking in human beings for the purpose of the removal of organs.

The UN Independent Expert on minority issues, Ms. Gay McDougall, will visit Canada until 23 October 2009, at the invitation of the Government.

Wednesday, 14 October

Today is the International Day for Disaster Reduction.

The Security Council will hold a debate on the situation in the Middle East today.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) will launch today its 2009 hunger report, this time jointly produced with the World Food Programme (WFP).

Radhika Coomaraswamy, Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict, will present her report on the protection of children to the Third Committee. Following that, she will brief the press on the report as the guest at the noon briefing.

This afternoon, Ms. Yanghee LEE, Chairperson of the Committee on the Rights of the Child will address the General Assemblys Third Committee.

The World Health organization (WHO) and UNICEF will launch a joint in New York on a new strategy to reduce child deaths from diarrhea.

Thursday, 15 October

This afternoon, the Security Council will hold a debate on the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK).

Today, the General Assembly is expected to elect five non-permanent members of the Security Council.

From 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m, in Conference Room 8, the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) and UNU-ONY will organize a high-level panel discussion to commemorate the fifteenth anniversary of OIOS. The Secretary-General is expected to make opening remarks.

From 1:15 to 2:45 p.m., in Conference Room 6, there will be a panel discussion on Combating the six grave violations against children in armed conflict organized by the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict.

Friday, 16 October

Today is World Food Day. The theme this year is Achieving food security in times of crisis.

The United Nations Campaign Stand up and take action against poverty will start today and run through 18 October.

Today, the Security Council will hear a briefing and then hold consultations on the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC).

At 11.30 a.m. in Room-S226, there will be a press conference by Under-Secretary-General for Public Information Kiyotaka Akasaka and Eric Falt, Director of the Outreach Division at the Department of Public Information (DPI). They will brief on UN4U, a DPI initiative to foster understanding of, and appreciation for, the work of the UN among youth audiences in New York City public high schools.

Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

United Nations, S-378

New York, NY 10017

Tel. 212-963-7162

Fax. 212-963-7055

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